Bhubaneswar: The shifting of endangered Bonda tribesmen has begun from their age-old habitats on the Bonda hills in Malkangiri district, which is anticipated to be the worst affected in the Cyclone Hudhud.
Official sources said the district administration was asked to shift the tribesmen as the the Bonda Hills, home to the about 7,000 particularly vulnerable tribal group, comes along the course of the cyclonic storm.
The administration has targetted to shift about 2,000 members of Bonda tribes to more secure places as they live in unsafe 'kuchha' houses on the hill top.
"The evacuation of Bonda tribes from upper Bonda Hills area is now under way," said a senior government official engaged in the process.
Chitrakonda MLA Dambaru Sisa, who is also a member of the Bonda tribal community, told PTI over phone that he has been trying to convince the tribesmen and women to move to safer place in view of the cyclone.
"Many of them are reluctant to leave their huts. The identified 2,000 tribal people have never come down the hills in their lifetime," said the MLA, who is monitoring the evacuation process.
According to Santosh Rath, the district welfare officer and in-charge of Bonda Development Project, said community leaders have been engaged to convince the tribals to shift to safer places.
"We do not allow others to motivate them as Bondas are basically temperamental. Evacuating those from the lower Bonda areas is comparitively easy but convincing those residing in the upper hills to shift is a tough job and requires to be handled carefully," he said.
The Bondas are being sheltered at two gram panchayat buildings, at Andrahal and Mudulipada. This apart, three permanent school buildings are also ready to accommodate them, Rath informed.
Apart from engaging community leaders in the job, the help of members of panchayati raj institutions has also been sought, Rath said.
Arrangements have been made to run free kitchens to provide cooked food to the tribals at the centres set up to shelter them, he added.
Evacuation of the Bondas is essential as their hills located about 4,000 feet above sea level are expected to be pounded by very heavy rains and hit by landslides due to the very severe cyclonic storm, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.